Urinary incontinence can be disruptive to work and social life. It’s also a very personal issue to talk about but not an uncommon one. According to the National Association for Continence, over 25 million U.S. citizens have some form of urinary incontinence, the majority of whom are women. While some causes of incontinence are out of a person’s control, there are some factors than people can mitigate.
- Weight: Excess weight can contribute to incontinence. One theory is that excess weight might exasperate stress incontinence (which is leaking when coughing, laughing, etc.)
- Level of activity: The Nurses’ Health Study showed that middle-aged women who were active were less likely to develop incontinence.
- Smoking: Nicotine has been linked to incontinence.
- Bladder irritants: Certain food and drink can irritate the bladder. These include alcohol, caffeine, carbonated drinks, spicy foods, citrus juice, and aspartame.
- Straining bowel movements: Straining during bowel movements can weaken the pelvic floor muscles. These muscles are what control the bladder.
Treatments for urinary incontinence are less invasive than they used to be. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a doctor if this is an issue.